Tolansky, Samuel

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TOLANSKY, SAMUEL (1907–1973), English physicist and world authority on optics and spectroscopy. Tolansky was born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, England, to Russian parents. He received his education in Newcastle and at the Imperial College in London, where he was appointed assistant lecturer in physics in 1934. He subsequently held various appointments at Manchester University, where he conducted important research work in the field of atomic energy during World War ii. He joined the Royal Holloway College of London University in 1947, becoming professor of physics. He became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1952.

Tolansky was a principal investigator for the American nasa lunar research project, and was one of the first group of scientists chosen to examine and evaluate the dust brought back by the Apollo moon astronauts. His prediction in 1969 that the moon is covered with glasslike marbles was verified a year later. Tolansky wrote a large number of works in his special field, many of which were translated into Russian, German, Japanese, and other languages. They include Optical Illusions (1964); Curiosities of Light Rays and Light Waves (1964); Interference Microscopy for the Biologist (1968); The Strategic Diamond (1968); Microstructures of Surfaces (1968); and Revolution in Optics (1968). He also published over 300 scientific papers.

Keenly interested in Jewish affairs, Tolansky was an active member of the academic advisory council of the cultural department of the World Jewish Congress, and was generally associated with Israeli scientific institutions. He was also a vice president of the British Technion society. He visited Israel on a number of occasions, delivering scientific lectures and advising on scientific affairs.

[Michael Wallach]